What happens to our Real Housewives once they've left a franchise? Each week, we're looking at the lives of past cast members after their exits. This week, former The Real Housewives of Orange County star Lauri Peterson.
She's one of the women who started it all. When Lauri Waring Peterson made her debut on the very first season of the very first Housewives franchise in 2006, she was a divorced single mom to three kids hoping to find love again. She did just that—after, of course, briefly dating Slade Smiley while he was on a break with Jo De La Rosa (but before he hooked up with current fiance Gretchen Rossi)—when she fell for successful OC real-estate developer George Peterson.
Viewers watched Lauri and George marry and combine their families—and since George had four kids of his own, together that made them a family of nine. Or, as Lauri says, "the modern-day Brady Bunch." But as the show progressed, Lauri found she was struggling to cope with her son Josh's escalating drug addictions and legal problems, which finally led her to leave during Season 4.
"I needed to really pull back, concentrate on my emotional well being and deal with the aftermath of [Josh's] arrest, " Lauri told The Orange County Register in 2008 of why she decided to stop filming RHOC. "Josh is not a stranger to problems. I truly believe drug addiction is a genetic illness," she added. But learning he had a problem with a hard drug like heroin left Lauri "shocked," she said. "I was horrified."
After bowing out of the show, Lauri focused on her family. But after a four-year absence, and with her marriage to George going strong ("It really is true, third time is a charm!" she said of hubby No. 3), Lauri briefly returned to RHOC in Season 8 last year "to stir up trouble," according to frenemy Vicki Gunvalson, who was not pleased when Lauri accused her of being a cheater and having a threesome during her dramatic comeback last year.
"I've been finding that I have more time on my hands now that five of our seven children are adults," Lauri told Bravo of why she returned to the show briefly as a "friend of the Housewives" last year. "George and I are slowly drifting into a different phase of our lives and now find ourselves preparing to be empty nesters. We are more like spectators versus managers of our adult children as they carve out their own paths."
In the last few years, Lauri has experienced new highs and lows. Josh married his girlfriend Hannah and made Lauri a grandmother with the birth of his beautiful little girl Kennedy in late 2012.
Lauri loves to post photos of the adorable 1-year-old on her Instagram page, as well as shots of her huge brood including daughters Sophie (who recently got her first car) and Ashley (who's done some modeling) and stepkids Slayte (who's a dad himself now) and Bria. She also never misses an opportunity to share a photo of her "handsome hubby." Says Lauri: "With only two daughters [left] at home, I have more time to goof off!"
Would you want to see Lauri return to RHOC again? Tell us in the comments.